Member Spotlight: Jo Badcock, Chair of the GILC Practice Subcommittee
We hear from Jo Badcock, Chair of the GILC Practice Subcommittee, on the work being done across Australia to reduce loneliness, and key priorities that will shape our efforts to address loneliness and social isolation globally.
Can you share a little about yourself and your role?
I am a Professor of Psychology with over 30 years' of research on mental illness, and co-founder of GILC. As Chair of the GILC Practice Subcommittee, I coordinate the Community of Practice meetings which provide an opportunity for members to share their knowledge and skills for reducing loneliness and isolation and learn from each other on how to improve social connection.
I am also the Director of Evidence and Training and Deputy Scientific Chair or Ending Loneliness Together - Australia’s peak body tackling loneliness and social connection.
What motivated you to get involved in addressing loneliness?
One of the main reasons for focussing on this issue came from my research on mental illness. Our work showed that people with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, often feel lonely and many expect to feel lonely in the future. In fact, many people with psychosis rank loneliness as a bigger challenge than their symptoms. These findings helped to support a push for new approaches to mental health services that better meet the needs of people with these experiences.
How is Ending Loneliness Together addressing loneliness in Australia?
Ending Loneliness Together is committed to taking evidence-based action to reduce loneliness across the whole community. With loneliness on the rise in Australia, we became aware that finding local services that help with reducing loneliness and strengthening social connection was often difficult. So, we developed the Ending Loneliness Directory – a national, online directory of services targeting loneliness and meaningful connection.
Launched on Neighbour Day, 26 March 2023, the Ending Loneliness Directory was developed with industry partner Infoxchange, along with input from people with lived experience of loneliness, service providers, and loneliness researchers. It is designed to help people to find and access the right services, in the right place, to meet their needs and preferences. The Directory currently has over 1500 services listed and continues to grow. Importantly, the number of people using the website is high, suggesting the Directory is quickly becoming a trusted and valuable community resource.
What do you think are the key priorities that will shape our efforts to address loneliness and social isolation globally?
It is widely recognized that climate change, and related natural disasters such as flooding and bushfire, is impacting how we live. Concern about climate change and its consequences can contribute to poor mental health and wellbeing. For example, climate anxiety is associated with higher levels of loneliness and is emerging as a significant problem, especially among young people.
This intersection of issues represents a grand challenge for every nation, and will require concerted action from GILC. Socially connected communities will be in a much stronger position to prepare and plan for these events, work together during times of crisis, and support each other afterwards to build hope for the future.
What does being a member of GILC mean to you?
For me, being a member of GILC is a way of giving back. As the saying goes “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” It’s been a privilege to meet, listen to, and learn from some extraordinary people across the globe who are dedicated to making a difference in the local communities.
Stay tuned for more inspiring Member Spotlights as we celebrate the work being done across the world to tackle loneliness and promote social connection.